Last week's game against Fresno State may have started slow, causing countless fans to raise their arms and say "here we go again," but that didn't stop the Cougars from cruising to a easy victory over the Bulldogs.
It seems like its been months since Utah State dominated Boise State and forced eight turnovers. Since that game the Aggies have gone 2-3, losing to San Diego State, New Mexico and Air Force. To be fair the three losses have been on the road and the two wins are at home. Ending the season at home could be a much needed boost for the Aggies as they gear up for bowl season. It looked like Utah State was all set to win the division title and eventually the conference title but those plans were quickly derailed by San Diego State's complete dominance. The Aggies may not be able to win the conference title but beating the Cougars may be somewhat of a consolation prize.
What has been a fairly one-sided rivalry in the Cougars favor over the years has evened out a little bit in the past few years. For BYU, losing to Utah State just isn't acceptable so expect them to come out ready to get some payback. Taysom Hill may not be playing in this one but the rest of the boys will be ready to get this rivalry back on the right foot, that is a win for the Cougars.
Tanner Mangum will throw for 300 yards and zero interceptions
This may not see very bold but when one considers that Utah State gives up 171 passing yards a game, throwing for 300 yards is no easy feat. If Mangum is going to hit 300+ yards then he's going to need to be on his game. Utah State is 9th in the country in passing yards allowed per game, though that number is likely skewed somewhat by playing Air Force, a school who runs the triple option almost exclusively. The run defense has been much less stout, giving up 163.7 yards per game. Recently BYU has not shown a great ability to run the ball on offense. At this point, I'm still skeptical of their chances to run consistently against the Aggies defense. If Mitch Mathews, Nick Kurtz and company can give Mangum some good throwing opportunities I like his chances to throw for 300. If the run offense proves to be lacking again expect to see Anae air it out a lot. There will be plenty opportunities to get some yards.
BYU will not have a single turnover
Utah State has forced 21 turnovers this season, nine interceptions and 12 force fumbles. After throwing five interceptions in his first 4 starts Mangum has thrown two in his last six games. Outside of his costly fumble against Missouri he has shown a much better ability to protect the football (he was credited with a fumble against Fresno State, but it looked like the wrong call to me). The main thing is that he doesn't seem to be forcing passes as much as he was earlier. Utah State is averaging close to two turnovers per game so not having a turnover is doable but won't be easy. The Aggies defense always come to play against the Cougars. They'll throw a lot of different looks at Mangum to try to rattle him and throw him off. How he responds to that will go along way to deciding the outcome of the game.
BYU will win the game in the final two minutes of the game
Tanner Mangum might as well start the regular season the way he ended it. With a game winning drive. Granted, the first game of the season was on a Hail Mary and wasn't much of a drive, he still ended the game with a touchdown for the win. It just wouldn't be BYU this season if it didn't wait until the very end to make the necessary plays to get it done. As this is a rivalry game, it's likely going to be very close for most of the game. Rivalry games are always fun and this one should be no different.
Utah State and BYU haven't played each other in November for quite some time. Playing at the end of the season does add some very nice drama that we're not accustomed to seeing in this game. It should be back and forth all game. In the end BYU walks away with a win 30-27.